Two long-range, nuclear-capable Russian Tu-22M3 bombers and two Sukhoi Su-27 fighters have flown at supersonic speeds in international space over Sweden. NATO then flew Danish and Italian jets to escort the bombers away from the Russian Baltic of Kaliningrad.
Tu-22M3 bombers and two Sukhoi Su-27 fighters flew with transponders off
Russia’s bombers flew with transponders off, the Swedish Air Force told the Associated Press. A NATO military official who spoke under the condition of anonymity confirmed that the planes’ transponders were indeed switched off.
“The Russian military aircraft did not use their onboard transponder; they were not in contact with civilian Air Traffic Control and they were not on a pre-filed flight plan,” the NATO official told AP.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Sweden is growing impatient with Russia’s persistent military presence over its airspace.
“This has happened now on a number of occasions and in a very challenging way. We are tired of having to repeatedly protest against these violations. We need to obtain Russia’s respect for existing regulations and put an end to this, which has been incredibly challenging and even dangerous for civil aviation as well,” Wallstrom was quoted as saying by AFP, citing Swedish TT news agency.
First time to display supersonic speed
NATO has repeatedly intercepted Russian bomber planes in the past. However, the encounter on Tuesday was unique, as it was the first time Russian planes flew at supersonic speed, The Aviationist reported. NATO had to scramble Danish and Italian jets in the same supersonic speed levels to intercept and drive the Russian planes away from Sweden’s air space.
The nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 bombers and two Sukhoi Su-27 fighters were flying towards Denmark and the Scandinavian Peninsula.
The bombers were also flying within the Riga Flight Information Region, the unnamed source told The Aviationist, which further noted that Russia did not violate any rule in terms of international air space. However, flying with transponders off and without contacting the Air Traffic Control can be dangerous to civilian aircraft flying the area.
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